It’s a sign of how enjoyable and good Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May detective series is that it got to a ninth volume, The Memory of Blood. The device of a leaked Wikipedia dossier is neatly used up front to acquaint new readers (or old readers with fading memories) with who the main characters are and their personal histories. Then it’s off to the usual business of the Peculiar Crimes Unit with its future under threat, a bizarre murder and time running out.
That usual business is both enjoyable but also, I felt unlike many other reviewers, just a bit too usual.
The plot is good, but at times reads like a collection of highlights of previous volumes in the series edited together. There’s another staring role for a theatre. There’s another character whose life fell apart after a personal tragedy and now lives in mundane, decaying circumstances. And so on. All done well, all very familiar and a bit familiar.
I was waiting for a spark of real difference in this book or a super-clever explanation of the plots oddities but neither came. Indeed, the explanation of the locked room mystery relied a bit too much on a person behaving very strangely combined with a rather prosaic detail for my taste.
I still enjoyed the book, especially the history of Mr Punch (as in Punch & Judy) but hope the next one in the series has a little more novelty in it – if that isn’t asking too much after so many volumes!
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